To Live, To Love, To Learn and To Leave a Legacy — A Reflection of HRBP’s Role in the New Normal

Today marked the 90th day since I’ve been working in the New Normal –the outbreak of COVID-19 happened in China then spread worldwide. In the first 60 days, I worked from home, adapted to the remote and virtual work model, followed by the recent 30 days that I came back to office to resume the physical workplace yet still in the pattern of remote engagement with most of HR colleagues.

Looking back the past 3 months, it’s the right timing to reflect what I’ve experienced and with that I would bring moving forward.

In SAP HRBP organization, our mission statement as of ‘We shape our future and dream big –our ambition is to become the number one talent magnet across all industries by attracting, growing and retaining the best talent in the market.’ Our actions and behaviors to achieve the goal including: by bringing our best emotional intelligence into the game, we architect the best consumer experience; by infusing organizations with the required skills, we grow business sustainably; by promoting an inclusive and risk-taking culture, we spark innovation; and by supporting radical transparency and feedback, we foster trustworthy leadership and collaborative culture.

How can we, HRBP, make the mission statement come to life and work? In my point of view, specially under the New Normal circumstance, three Roles are key – to be the Evangelist, Bridge and Catalyst.

Be the Evangelist to articulate Core Value.

Along with the macro environment changes, SAP has many changes in terms of organization, leadership, workforce in the past four months. We have kicked off the new decade with a fresh sense of moving forward together – its inevitability, its widening scale, and its increasing frequency – under three conditions, namely, change from a position of strength, change with our customers as the primary motivation, and finally, we embrace change for the opportunity it presents for ourselves. 

It’s vital to be able to articulate the rational driving the changes as an HRBP, to the teams with structural wise changes, to the young talents that just got started their professional life. Sales Academy folks, some were just onboarded, in the training period and some were going to the Field earlier than scheduled due to the pandemic situation. What’s SAP’s core value to the market, to our customers, to our employees that ensure our competitive advantages in the nearly 50-year history? Why do we see so many SAPers work tirelessly to lead the remarkable result quarter over quarter, year over year? How can we do day to day to elaborate this ‘Spiritual Heritage’?

In the quarterly business review meetings, the training sessions, I tried to reiterate the mission and vision, core value that I understand that matters in such changing world. Something unchanged in the VUCA era is what we truly believe in such as trustworthy relationship, the purpose and meaning of work, work-health balance, resilience and adaptability…These are really somethings worthy spending time to look at, to discuss in the group.

In the recent blog I wrote in the SAP China Top VAT Academy about research I did about HR’s role in Digital Transformation journey, to develop ‘T’ Shape Talent, to leverage AI technology while stay Humanity. Learning and Enabling are two key words that I articulated frequently.

Telling a good story to the internally and externally, helps to develop leadership. We would need to get the skills as an Evangelist. 

Be the Bridge to build Connection.

Building connection cross all functions in the battle of COVID-19 in order to protect everybody from the virus, SAP China formed a Task Force Team back to Jan, during the Chinese New Year holiday, fully in line with the Central Government and Municipal authorities’ guidance. Being the member of the Task Force, I have been working closely with the Senior Management, Facility, Security, Communications at Global and Local levels. Day to day activities with the team and recommending the different resolutions to keep business continuity, we made it together to keep all China colleagues in good shape without any reported case, including Wuhan based team and those came back to hometown in Hubei Province.

It’s tough assignment to me from physically and mentally. At first, I felt fatigue in the ‘no boundary model’: from early morning when I was awake, until the mid-night that I called it a day. But in the meanwhile, I felt not alone, that we as ONE team, worked virtually yet efficiently as ONE, to support each other. My counterparts were all at the full speed, to deal with situations unprecedentedly. One good example was that, colleagues need to leave hometown and travel back to the work location. There was requirement for the company issued employment certificate as proof to the flight or train carriers during the constrict of traveling. HR Shared Service team reacted quickly to communicate with HR GSD and provided electronic company stamp on the Employment Certificate. Another show case was that with Legal team’s extra help, we supported the Banding customer technical demo provided information required and compliant fully with the GDPR terms and conditions, resulted in customer appreciation.

Be the Catalyst to foster a Learning Culture.

Catalyst means from a chemistry perspective, a substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected synonym. We use the metaphor to refer to someone can lead some change or impact others to accelerate the progress, while remains unaffected for himself/herself.

Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found that negative experiences may have the unexpected benefit of enhancing well-being. Difficult times can serve as a catalyst that pushes us to ask deeper questions and seek greater meaning in our life.

Our workforce has changed and will continue to change in the future, the old paradigm of managing by force, fear, or intimidation is over; people are now being asked to step up to the mantle of great leadership because it is required now more than ever. Learning equals growth, and we have to be continuously learning and evolving because nothing stays the same. If we are comfortable doing the same thing year in and year out, our organization will be stagnated.

During the past 90 days, I advocated and volunteered to host some virtual enablement and communication sessions, to the sense of urgency of learning anytime, anywhere, not lag the epidemic situation. Lots of network live courses gave us good opportunities, we can even more focused than ever in terms of no distractions around us.

I have been continued my role as of coach and mentor to many who approached me since the beginning of the year. We kept out cadence sessions virtually and in person, wearing protect mask. It’s hard to descript the joy that I felt after each session, when my mentee or coachee said that they did have something take away and find their own inner voice to the dilemma, question after our conversations.

I am so grateful and lucky to be able to assume the role of a mentor and a coach. Pretty much look forward to my Certified Coaching course starting from May. To me, giving something I have to others, helping young generation to find their own True North, supporting executive leaders fulfill their new role with more confidence, would be the best contentment of my HRBP role.

While China has been a player in the globalization stage in the past 40 years, and globalization promotes extensive exchanges of social formation and cultural patterns, the crisis somehow amplified the different ideology, mentality and practice among different world, cross different countries. Understand the difference existence, acknowledge the diversity of world then embrace those ideas, ways of resolution can keep us as the Citizen of the Earth. We are more than ever to unite together rather than deepen the ‘division’.

SAP China team delivered a satisfactory result in the first quarter that got the applause from the Executive Board and many colleagues worldwide. Nevertheless, we still face the challenging New Normal ahead: the disruptive technology development, the ambiguity of business environment, the geopolitical changes and so on. ‘Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.’ What we can do is to work hard, stay curious, hold our faith and passion towards the right things we believe in, then act decisively.

As the great mentor Stephen Covey once said: : ‘To Live, to Love, to Learn, to leave a legacy.’